Are You a Car Expert?



By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you constantly thinking about cars? Do you have high-octane fuel flowing through your veins? Do you look up what car museums, tracks, etc. are in a place before deciding to go on vacation there? Do you use Armor All on your dashboard every day? You're likely a real gearhead, sometimes referred to as a car nerd or automotive genius. 

For most people, cars are a bit of a mystery. They might admire a Porsche or Corvette as it passes, but they have no idea what's under the curvaceous body panels. True car experts can start reciting all kinds of facts about vehicles as they pass, their knowledge going beyond just a single brand or type of car. To reach that level, you need to be studious, obsessed and always looking to learn more about vehicles. 

There's a lot to know about cars, considering they're been in existence since the 1800s and have been manufactured all over the globe. Plenty of automakers have come and gone, along with numerous technologies and designs. There's also car culture, motorsports and historical breakthroughs, to name a few more knowledge categories. 

Are you ready to get behind the wheel and prove your car smarts? Take this quiz now!  

Which automaker uses VTEC for its engines?

VTEC, which stands for Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control, was created by Honda in 1983 as a way to push the limits of efficiency for the four-stroke engine. The result is better performance at higher RPMs, meaning the engines behave normally when driven at low to mid RPMs.


What's the biggest automotive market in the world?

Dating back to 2008, the Chinese auto market has been the largest in the world, when it comes to the number of cars sold. That fact means many automakers concentrate on what Chinese consumers want when developing certain vehicles.


Which of the following is a reason why drag racers do a burnout before a race?

While burnouts look cool, they heat up tires, which helps with traction for a better off-the-line start, especially if a car is using racing slicks. A burnout will also shed rocks and other debris that might have stuck to the tires, keeping the track free of extra stuff.


Why do many Porsches feature the ignition on the left of the steering wheel and not the right like most cars?

Porsche started installing ignitions on the left side of the steering wheel thanks to the brand's competing in Le Mans races. This enabled drivers to run to the car, jump in, shift into first while turning on the engine, giving them a slight time advantage.


What does shifting an automatic transmission into drive while the car is still rolling into neutral do?

No, doing this won't make your transmission suddenly fall out of the car, or trigger a huge explosion in the engine, despite what some people believe. But, it does put an extra strain on numerous drivetrain components, because you're suddenly slamming the car into drive while everything's moving in the other direction, which can lead to some expensive repairs far earlier.


What's the main point of slotted rotors?

Slotting cut into brake rotors, as well as cross-drilling and also vented rotor designs, are all about shedding heat built up from friction between the brake pads and rotors. They provide the heat with a pathway to escape quickly, like taking the lid off a pot of boiling water, avoiding risks like brake fade.


What country was the first car created in?

While there's some controversy over whether the three-wheeled car with a one-cylinder two-stroke engine invented by Carl Benz was indeed the first car, most people accept that it was.


As outdoor temperatures drop, what happens to your tires' air pressure?

The air in your tires is absolutely affected by temperature, because it's a gas. At the beginning of winter you need to pay attention to air pressure, because it can drop, reducing traction. In the summer your tires might become overinflated, increasing the risk of a blowout.


What do you call vents in a car's hood that are designed to let air out and not in?

Some high-performance cars have heat extractors to keep temperatures under the hood from getting out of control. Often, air enters through the front fascia and is channel over the engine before leaving through the extractor.


What were the original Jeeps used to do?

The US military originally commissioned Jeeps to be made en masse during WWII as an agile transport. It even served as a reconnaissance vehicle, running behind enemy lines by going off the roads and allowing GIs to scout enemy positions.


Which of the following could happen if you pulled a car's parking brake at speed?

There's a reason why a parking brake is called what it is, because you're only supposed to use it once the vehicle is stationary. If you need to slow down at speed, let off the accelerator or press the brake pedal.


Which of the following isn't an angle that matters when off-roading?

Before you take a vehicle on trails and start climbing over obstacles, you need to have a solid understanding of the approach, breakover and departure angles. Knowing these will help you not get stuck or caught in a dangerous situation.


Why do some race cars zig-zag on the track before a race begins?

When following the pace car, you'll notice many NASCAR, F1 and other racers zig-zag the car, which builds up heat through the extra friction. That heat makes the tires stickier, improving handling, acceleration and even braking performance.


What are wheel chocks for?

Wheel chocks can be made out of a variety of materials, but they're made into a wedge-like shape. One side sits flat on the ground, while another has a tread pattern on it, keeping the tires from slipping, so the car stays stationary when you only have one end on jack stands or ramps.


Where did the boxer engine get its name?

If you look at a four-cylinder boxer or flat engine from the top-down, and could see the internal movements, you'd notice that the cylinders on each side alternate strokes, making them look similar to a boxer punching a bag while practicing.


Why did people have to crank engines manually back in the day?

Back in the day, many cars didn't have a starter like what we benefit from today, so drivers had to use the manual crank to fire up the engine. It wasn't exactly a convenient method, plus sometimes engines would kick back, making the crank move the other direction, which could be dangerous.


What's the first step in taking the wheel off a car, if you're using a tire iron instead of air tools?

The lug nuts on your car's wheels should be tightened quite securely, so loosening them at first requires a bit of force. You can't do that once the car is on a jack, otherwise you risk knocking it off the jack, so loosen the lug nuts slightly, then jack up the car and remove the lug nuts the rest of the way.


What lowers the coolant temperature as it flows through a radiator?

As the car drives and coolant flows through the radiator, air flows through the radiator. The heat from the coolant transfers to the air, thanks to small fins that are attached to the passageways where the coolant travels.


What is GM's magnetic suspension damping system called?

The MagneRide system boosts performance and isolates everyone in a vehicle from harsh road conditions, thanks to shock absorbers filled with a mixture of iron particles floating in synthetic hydrocarbon oil, which can quickly be magnetized to stiffen or soften the suspension as needed.


How is a twin-turbo system different from a biturbo setup?

While some people may use the two terms interchangeably, in general a twin-turbo system has sequential turbos. That means one is a small turbo that spools up quickly, proving boost a low RPMs, while the second is larger and helps with high-end power. Biturbo setups usually feature two turbos of the same size, but that get their exhaust gases from only half of the cylinders each.


What was the first mass-produced car with electronic fuel injection?

Bosch was a pioneer in electronic fuel injection, which the components producer used successfully in the 1967 Volkswagen 1600, making it the first mass-produced car to use the technology. The improved fuel efficiency became popular during the oil crisis a short time later, and the push for improved vehicle emissions also encourage automakers to use the tech.


Where does NASCAR trace its origins back to?

During Prohibition in the United States, people in the Appalachian area came up with a creative way to get bootlegged alcohol to speakeasies. They would hire young men with cars that looked stock, but were modified to outrun the police, which led to the creation of NASCAR.


What is brake fade?

Brake fade happens when the brake pads and rotors rubbing against each other don't generate enough friction to slow or stop a vehicle consistently. It's a temporary condition that goes away once the pads and rotors cool some.


What's the biggest advantage of a mid-engine layout for a car?

Having a big, heavy engine sitting at the front or rear of a car creates an imbalance in how the weight is spread out, which negatively impacts handling and braking performance. Of course, a mid-engine layout means the vehicle can only have two seats, so it's not always practical.


What type of engine definitely won't become damaged if the timing belt or chain breaks?

A timing chain or belt helps ensure the pistons and valves in an interference engine don't cross paths and collide. That means if the chain or belt breaks, you likely will have to replace several engine components.


Which of the following is a possible cause of a car always having a thick, white exhaust cloud?

When you first start up an engine, the exhaust might appear white, but as you drive and the engine reaches its normal operating temperature, that should no longer be the case. White smoke usually indicates the cylinders are burning coolant, which usually happens because the head gasket is blow, but a cracked block is another possibility.


Which of the following is not something the oil does in an engine?

The oil in your car's engine performs several vital functions, but as it becomes dirty and the viscosity breaks down, those benefits start to go away. That's why you need to be diligent about changing the oil regularly.


Why should you torque bolts on a car to spec?

If you're going to do work on your car, always use a torque wrench and look up the torque values for the bolts and other fasteners, as specified by the automaker. You'll avoid plenty of problems doing this.


When off-roaders talk about protecting the pumpkin on their rig, what are they referring to?

When you're rolling over big rocks or fallen trees, the differential is at risk of getting damaged, since it hangs lower than most other components in the chassis. If you puncture the cover, fluid might leak out and cause the differential to seize, which is a costly repair.


What was the big deal about the BMW 2002?

While you might think BMW is an exciting, performance-oriented brand, that wasn't always the image portrayed by the brand. It was the 2002 with its 2.0-liter engine and tight handling that first really established Bimmers as fun cars made for enthusiasts.


Which wasn't a reason Mazda stopped using the rotary engine?

The Wankel rotary engine provides some amazing benefits, including smooth power delivery, amazing weight-to-power ratios and fewer moving parts than other engines. Those pluses were outweighed by the drawbacks, especially when it came to fuel efficiency and emissions.


What's one of the main advantages of direct fuel injection?

Direct or port injection engines not only are more efficient, they often produce higher output for improved performance. That doesn't mean there aren't drawbacks, namely the valves getting dirtier over time.


Which of the following is one advantage provided by integrated exhaust manifolds?

Integrated exhaust manifolds don't take up as much space in the engine compartment, they weigh less, plus they reduce turbo lag and help the engine reach operating temperature faster, which is why they're catching on.


What's the purpose of a turbo wastegate?

Without a wastegate, you could easily blow your turbo accidentally if it produces too much pressure. Everything mechanical has its limits, and the wastegate helps the turbo stay within its limits.


What are trophy trucks built for?

The specs for a trophy truck mostly relate to safety standards, but they usually feature a high-powered engine and long travel suspensions. These are purpose-built trucks usually never used on the street.


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